Sharks are not on everyone’s list of cute and cuddy – having personally seen a few large sharks up close and in the wild, the words would be “awe inspiring” and “fascinating”. I wasn’t scared, at no time did I feel threatened, “honoured” would be more accurate. I would love to dive outside a cage with great whites and tigers, a few very lucky people have had the opportunity, I would like to be one of them, just like every boy wants to be an astronaut. Almost nobody living will make it into space, and if we go on without change almost nobody in the future will ever be honoured to dive with big ocean sharks. The reason is simple, in our lifetime we are going to make them extinct!
Back in 1999, the FAO tried to persuade all fishery nations to manage their sharks, few countries got around to a management plan, and very few had management plans that had any restrictions. The Malaysian NPOA was one of the best – at least they wrote one – but it has no actual monitoring or restrictions on shark catches. The FAO clearly didn’t get the point across that regulations and monitoring were what was needed.
In 2008 the worlds best shark scientists said that oceanic sharks were going extinct. Here we are in 2012 and there are still very few regulations and almost no enforcement. The global shark survey shows the decline dramatically, less than 100 place on the planet where you can see sharks. Unless you can afford to go to South Africa and dive with Great Whites, the best thing you can do is take your children to see the last living sharks – probably in an aquarium near you.